The 33-year-old Trinidadian who came to Guyana and allegedly attempted to fake his own kidnapping was on Tuesday morning granted bail in the sum of $1M and ordered to lodge his passport.
Sawak Maraj is expected to reappear at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan on December 4, 2017.
The Prosecution’s case is that on October 27, 2017, at Madewini Resort, Timehri, East Bank Demerara (EBD), Maraj allegedly gave false information to the Police that he had been kidnapped and US$700,000 was demanded for his release.
The Police, upon investigating, realised that the claim was reportedly false.
It is also alleged that on the same day at the same location, Maraj conspired with others to commit a felony, that is to say, he knowingly conspired to obtain US$700,000.
However, Maraj maintains his innocence.
Reports indicate that Maraj arrived in Guyana and was scheduled to check in at the Ramada Hotel at Providence, but never showed.
Maraj’s parents back in Trinidad were contacted by an unknown person, who revealed that their son was in unlawful custody in Guyana while demanding a large sum of money for his release.
A photograph of the shirtless man with a cutlass to his neck was sent to his parents as evidence.
However, police investigators, acting on intelligence received, swooped down on the Madewini Resort and reportedly found the man vacationing with his alleged accomplices.
On November 16, 2017 –when the case was last called- Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan had reprimanded the investigating rank after he failed to show any substantial progress in the matter since it was brought before the courts two weeks prior.
The previous session was scheduled for submission of statements by the Prosecution.
However, when the matter was called before the Chief Magistrate, Prosecutor Alvin Moore indicated to the court that he had no statements and was not ready to proceed to trial, as there are “a few more points to clear up”.
According to Moore, the case had to be sent to the DPP for an Early Case Assessment Programme (ECAP) prosecutor to be assigned.
This, he said, has to be done before statements can be filed.
The court also heard that the prosecution sought advice of the Police Legal Advisor (PLA) who directed that the parents of the accused be contacted. However, the Police were unable to so do.
Responding to the Prosecutor at the time, defence lawyer Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos bashed the prosecution for impeding the process of a fair and timely trial for the accused, who is not only a foreign national but is also incarcerated.
“They (the parents) are not only here; they’ve been here for two weeks now,” De Santos had informed the court.
The lawyer, in a renewed application for bail, informed the court that it is unfair to incarcerate his client in the inhumane conditions of the Lusignan prison.
In addition, De Santos had argued that Maraj does not pose any flight risk, as the Police are in possession of his travel documents and his parents have also entered into a contract to rent accommodation pending the outcome of trial.
Nonetheless, the prosecutor had maintained a strong objection to bail being granted on the basis that the lodging of a travel document does not provide assurance that the accused will not flee the jurisdiction.
In strengthening his submission, the Prosecutor informed the court that the defendant had previously been involved in a case of a similar nature, in which the INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organisation) had become involved.